According to latest reports, the terrorists of various factions under the umbrella of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are demanding pulling out of army from the tribal area as a precondition to start the dialogue. They want their own writ established in that area before they come to negotiating table. If government accepts the demand, it will strenthen the popular perception that APC was no more than a sell-out to Pakistani Taliban. Similar demands have already been made by India-sponsored Baloch separatists.
This is subsequent to the All Parties Conference (APC) of Pakistan’s political leaders held on Monday in Islamabad with Prime Ministerin chair. The confenece which was held to find a way forward to address the issue of terrorism ended with a resolution to engage with Pakistani Taliban (TTP) in negotiations. The resolution issued at the end of the conference seems to have achieved nothing in accordance with the aspirations of the people, the intended target and victims of terrorism. This vague document has been viewed by analysts as more of a document of surrender than an expression of a nation’s resolve to fight terrorism. The politicos were so cautious in naming the culprits that they decided not to name the terrorists as killers of more than 50,000 innocent civilians and shifted their focus on illegal war on terror and drone strikes. The resolution was clearly an attempt to appease the terrorists.
In his op-ed piece for English language daily newspaper, DAWN, analyst Zahid Hussain wrote that in fact, militant groups responsible for the death of thousands of men, women, children and soldiers, have virtually been legitimized as stakeholders in the peace efforts. The political parties participating in the conference were not expected to come up with a better resolution given their diverse ideological and political views. But the outcome, writes Hussain, has been even more shambolic than expected. The political leaders failed to decide the perimeter within which the talks are to be held or whether the extremists would be asked cessation of attacks and laying down the arms as a precondition of proposed talks. The tone and tenor of the resolution is that of a party losing a war and forced to negotiate for peace. The militants have already made their demand public which includes changing Pakistan’s foreign policy and enforcement of their version of Sharia. In fact, the TTP has upped the ante after the APC resolution calling for the state to show more sincerity before the negotiations. “The government will also have to convince the army and to decide on a roadmap for the talks,” a TTP spokesman was quoted as saying.
Pakistan Army launched military operation in scenic Swat Valley in 2009 and cleared the area by killing and flushing out the terrorists. It launched another operation in South Waziristan Agency of the restive tribal belt forcing the terrorists to flee and seek safe havens in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces under the protective umbrella of Afghan government. It was not the State but the militants who were on a weak wicket and the government could exploit the situation by talking from the position of strength giving ultimatum to them to surrender or face the wrath of the State.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, the political dispensation lacks the spine to fight the terrorists. The parties who participated in the conference are known for their declared sympathies for them. The campaign to talk to terrorists and cease military operation against them was launched by, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf who is dubbed by the people as Taliban Khan. Similarly, another politician spearheading talks is Maulana Fazal who is known as Father of Taliban and exercise strong clout among them. These two politicians have been protecting the interests of terrorists at the cost of national interests.
Surprisingly, the armed forces have not made their voice heard and are reported to only do the bidding of the politicians. They have, however, made it clear that for them national integrity is more important than anything else.
hsaqib is based in Rāwalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan, and is a Reporter for Allvoices.